Jalapeños en Escabeche (Picked Jalapeños)

May 29, 2020
3 Ratings
Photo by Anna Billingskog
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Makes 2 quarts
Author Notes

Being half Ecuadorian and half Korean, I’ve been asked “what are you?” everywhere I’ve gone my entire life. It’s hard for most people to guess my ethnicity, and constantly defending what I am—or what I’m not—can be exhausting. My grandparents’ home—filled with the rich aromas of achiote-stained meats, fiery pozole, and sweet tamales—is the one place where I can let down my defense. Neither my grandma or grandpa question if I am Latinx enough; they just know me as someone they want to share a table, and pass a bowl of escabeche with. I always leave their home feeling stronger in myself, as part of a greater cultural fabric (and with some leftovers, of course).

No matter what was for dinner, there was always a side of escabeche. There are many kinds of escabeche out there, but my grandma’s is the best: Charred jalapeños, carrots, onions, and whole garlic cloves pickled in oregano- and thyme-laced vinegar. If a rich, fatty meat knocks down your palette, her escabeche is there to lift it back up.

The uncertainty of our future and my inability to be with my grandparents has left me feeling unsettled these past few months. It’s not much, but at least I can make this escabeche when I’m feeling especially homesick. With one bite, I’m transported back to my grandma’s kitchen where she’s telling me about her day in Spanish, while a telenovela hums in the background. It’s the taste of home, a reminder that I’m part of a larger history, and that things will continue on. —Kiera Wright-Ruiz

What You'll Need
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil
  • 1 pound whole jalapeños
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, thickly sliced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  1. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Place jalapeños in the hot pan and char on both sides, about 2 minutes each side.
  2. Add onion, carrots and garlic into the pan and cook until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent the vegetables from sticking and burning.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes, or until carrots and jalapeños are tender. Remove from heat and cool.
  4. Store in two quart containers and keep in the fridge for up to 2 months.

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